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Learning philosophy makes children improve in math

Learning philosophy makes children improve in math

June 24, 2021

Learning is an essential process in the development of the human mind. Part of this is thanks to the education we receive in schools and institutes, although it is true that not everyone is given the same way to study the different subjects that are part of compulsory education. As they say, there are children who are given better numbers, and others the letters.

Find a balance point in which the level of difficulty of all subjects is affordable for all the little ones it is a challenge. But, interestingly, a simple change in the existing curriculum in early childhood education could improve their performance in other subjects.


A project carried out in England shows that if children are taught philosophy, present improvements in other subjects such as mathematics and language ; a pleasant surprise.

Philosophy helps from very young

This project was supervised by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), a charitable and independent English organization that aims to make education equal for all, regardless of the family's lucrative level, with the objective that children and young people can release everything his talent without any limitations. The idea of ​​the EEF was check the effects of philosophy classes on the smallest students in the way of a control test, as is done with drug tests.


48 different schools participated in the study. Of these, 22 acted as a control group, that is, they followed the normal rhythm of classes, and in the remaining 26 students they received a weekly philosophy class of several hours . The lessons worked had to do with topics such as truth, justice, friendship or wisdom, and included times to reflect on answers and discuss the issues.

Learning to think from philosophy

After analyzing the effects of the philosophy classes on the degree of competences acquired by children (between 9 and 10 years old), the researchers registered an improvement of the participants in their linguistic and mathematical skills .

What was observed is that the children who were present in these classes increased their math and reading abilities as if they had taken two more months of teaching about it.


This improvement was more evident in children with worse grades which showed a greater progression; his reading ability improved just as he would have done in 4 extra months; in mathematics, this advancement in learning corresponded to three months, and in writing, two months.

In addition, the teachers reported that there was a beneficial impact on the relationship between his students and there also appeared to be greater confidence among the students and an improvement in communication skills.

Creating the bases of learning

The beneficial effects of the philosophy lasted at least two years , period during which the intervention group continued to outperform the control group in the subjects analyzed. According to the organizers, this improvement could be due to the fact that the children were offered the possibility of using new ways of thinking and expressing themselves, which allowed them to better connect their ideas, to reflect logically with greater ease and to create broader knowledge units. .

It's nothing new

England is not the first country to test the benefits of teaching philosophy to minors. The program that EEF used is known as Philosophy for Children (P4C), and It was designed in the 70s by the philosopher Matthew Lipman in New Jersey . This project, which was already discussed in this article, aimed to teach new ways of thinking through philosophical dialogue. The program has already been hosted by 60 different countries, including Argentina or Spain.

In the case of England, the project was hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Inquiry and Reflection in Education (SAPERE), which is now also part of the EEF.

The concentrated efforts behind this organization did not focus on the original idea of ​​reading philosophical texts by Plato or Aristotle, but rather on reading stories, poems or even watching clips of videos that promote the discussion of philosophical topics. The objective was to help children in the generation of response, as well as to promote constructive conversations and develop arguments.

Pros and cons

Among the advantages that FES showed, it was also found that 63% of students who received this "extra" education performed well in their subsequent studies . As also indicated by the president of the EEF, Kevin Collin, this program is a good support for disadvantaged children, making reference to the greatest benefit seen in this class of students.

Among the drawbacks, as almost always happens in these cases, is the economic barrier, since the program cost each participating school about £ 16 (€ 23) for each student who received this class. It would be necessary that it be part of compulsory public education to assume the costs.


Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching | Dan Finkel | TEDxRainier (June 2021).


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